The effect that mankind's activities have had on the environment form a major part of GCSE Geography. This quiz looks at intensive farming - the negative impact it has had on the environment and some possible alternative agricultural practices.
Farming is often viewed as a simple, rural pursuit but, with an increase in modern methods, farming has become an intensive system designed to get the maximum yield out of the minimum land area. Whist we tend to think of intensification as being a modern problem, we have been improving and developing farming practices for tens of thousands of years, ever since hunter gathers began tending to wild plants that they needed as food.
Intensive farming involves the use of fertilisers and pesticides, growing high yield crops, growing crops all year round and keeping animals indoors and in small spaces to limit their movement. This allows a higher yield in crops and meat production, but leads to environmental impacts that may not be clear immediately.
The opposite of intensive farming is organic farming. Whilst this still uses natural fertilisers and natural pest control, its overwhelming aim is to reduce the environmental impact from farming. However, the costs of organic farming are much higher, which is translated to the end price for the customer. This means that some people can’t afford, or don’t see the value in, organic produce.
Science is working to create new forms of pesticides that work in a more environmentally friendly way. It is also working to discover natural alternatives to environmentally unsound practices and alternative methods of farming that either give us new ways of farming the same crops, or use newly developed strains that require less input in the form of chemical controls or fertilisers.
The long term effects of some chemical controls have had a negative impact on the environment which will last for decades to come.